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Are You a Manager or a Leader? Take the Quiz


During one of my early years as a school principal, I recall reading an article in a professional journal that asked the question, "Are you a leader or a manager?" At that time, I was new to the roles and responsibilities that came with running a non-public school, and all of the non-educational work, like finances, HR and facilities, that the role encompassed. I was barely keeping my head above water and when I read the article, I was struck by the distinction between the two. I realized that in my quest to handle everything, I was overlooking the big picture and getting lost in tasks. I cut out the quote at the bottom of the article, and that quote remained in my office until my last day there. In the intervening years, I focused on it often and challenged myself to move beyond the managerial role, and maintain focus on the vision. While all leaders have to fulfill some managerial roles, as well as the visionary ones, it’s the focus on the visionary aspect of leadership that makes a manager a leader.

So, what is the difference between management and leadership, and why is it important? Managers are necessary to the running of an organization. Managers focus on details, schedules, and objectives. Managers assess and manage risks. They accept the course laid out for them and keep other employees on the charted path. Without good managers, the work that’s needed to fulfill the mission and vision, may not be accomplished. However, the leader’s role in the organization is different. Leadership should be visionary. Good leaders take risks that are beneficial to the growth and evolution of the organization. Leaders focus on charting the course for the organization, not following a plotted path. Leaders inspire others to follow the vision. They foster relational respect and authority (respect that is earned by the relationships that have been built), not just positional respect and authority (respect given due to title or position).

MANGERS LEADERS

  1. Focus on objectives or Focus on goals

  2. Detail oriented Provide direction

  3. Assess and manage risks Take calculated risks

  4. Instruct employees Encourage employees to evolve

  5. Accept charted course Chart a new course and challenge status quo

  6. Plan short term Plan a vision for the future

  7. Follow rules,controls staff Inspire staff to follow

  8. Make decisions with head Make decisions with heart

Assess the traits as they relate to your leadership style and for each number choose one from either column that best describes you. Give yourself 1 point for each descriptor in the managerial column and 2 points for each descriptor in the leadership column. Do you function more in a managerial or leadership role?

Total your score. If you couldn’t choose for some of the descriptors, and scored between 0-7 total – it might be time to choose a different job or path.

If you scored between 8-11 – you are a reliable manager. This is an important role. Behind every great leader is a trusted and capable manager and advisor. While we all know of Winston Churchill, we may not know of his great advisor, Frederick Alexander Lindemann. Throughout history, managers, secretaries, advisors and lieutenants have played key roles in serving others. Good managers are a cornerstone of any organization.

If you scored between 12-16 – you are a visionary leader! While not every visionary leader will be the next Steve Jobs, it’s important to be a leader that others want to follow, a leader that inspires followers to be the best they can be, a leader who charts a course for excellence for their organization, whether it’s a small business or a large institution.

A successful leader has followers who are inspired to work towards the realization of the vision of the organization. Be that leader, and endeavor to make a difference in your organization.

“You manage things; you lead people.” —Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper